New CIO to lead Target’s breach recovery

Ongoing efforts to bolster cyber security at Target will take place under the leadership of an interim chief information officer and several other key positions the company is looking to fill with external candidates.

Earlier this week, Target confirmed that EVP and CIO Beth Jacob has resigned her position and in a statement provided to Retailing Today from Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel made it clear the company is intent on elevating its technology capabilities following last December’s data breach.

“While we are still in the process of an ongoing investigation, we recognize that the information security environment is evolving rapidly,” Steinhafel said. “To ensure that Target is well positioned following the data breach we suffered last year, we are undertaking an overhaul of our information security and compliance structure and practices at Target. As a first step in this effort, Target will be conducting an external search for an interim CIO who can help guide Target through this transformation.”

In other related moves, Steinhafel said the company plans to elevate the role of chief information security officer and also seek an external candidate for that position.

“Additionally, we will be initiating an external search for a chief compliance officer,” Steinhafel said. “We are also working with an external advisor, Promontory Financial Group, to help us evaluate our technology, structure, processes and talent as a part of this transformation.”

The moves represent a coordinated effort to upgrade an information technology organization that has shouldered considerable blame for having in adequate security measures in place to thwart hackers who managed to defeat Target’s systems. As head of the IT group, Jacob was the proverbial “fall guy,” and an executive who came to the technology profession via merchandising.

Jacob was a homegrown success story at Target. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in retail merchandising and promptly joined Target’s department stores division, known as Dayton’s, back when Target had a department store division. She left Dayton’s in 1986, earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and returned to Target in 2002 as director of guest contact centers. In 2006, she was named VP of guest operations for Target financial services. In 2008, she was elevated to the role of SVP and chief information officer and in 2010 was named an EVP.